Big PMB porn piracy bust

2009-07-03 00:00

PIRATED DVDs, including pornographic films, and hi-tech CD and DVD manufacturing equipment worth more the R150 000 was seized and a 24-year-old Congolese woman was arrested for contravening the Copyright Act in Pietermaritzburg yesterday.

The police’s crime intelligence unit from Pietermaritzburg, working in partnership with the Recording Industry of South Africa (Risa), busted a DVD manufacturing syndicate in the city centre during the sting operation.

“This breakthrough comes after months of investigation. Police kept the house under surveillance for a while before they made their move,” said SAPS spokesman Senior Superintendent Henry Budhram. He said piracy is a global problem and said “this was part of a bigger syndicate”.

He said the Congolese woman was staying with her husband at in Greyling Street where the lunch- time raid took place.

“They were copying music and movie DVDs for the purpose of sale from a premises. The husband is presently being sought, as he was not on the premises at the time of the raid, allegedly out distributing the copied discs to clients.”

A total of 120 music and movie DVDs plus DVD writers and duplicators, scanners, LCD screens and plates used to cut CDs were seized. Police also found SA Home Affairs documents and stamps.

“Police confiscated DVDs worth R120 000 and computer equipment that was being used to copy the discs valued at R40 000.” Some of the equipment seized during the operation is capable of producing between five and 10 DVDs at a time.

Risa Anti-Piracy Enforcement Officer in KZN Thulani Zondi said the DVDs included local and internationally produced material. The DVDs include the some of the latest movies that are currently on circuit at local cinemas.

“It’s music videos, porn movies and SA movies such asWhite Wedding and Jerusalema. It’s crippling the industry. They copy movies and music videos before they are released. They are even using school kids to sell pirated DVDs.”

Zondi works closely with the police in a bid to combat piracy. He was trained by Risa to be able to identify manufacturing equipment and fake CDs and DVDs.

The technology apparently used to create these pirated DVDs is as simple as a couple of blank CDs and a DVD recorder.

The 24-year-old woman has been detained and is expected to appear in the Pietermaritzburg Magistrate’s Court shortly.

 

THE damage to the music industry worldwide through piracy and illegal downloading has yet to be fully calculated.

Music theft can take various forms: individuals who illegally upload or download music online, online companies who build businesses based on theft and encourage users to break the law, or criminals manufacturing mass numbers of counterfeit CDs for sale on street corners, in flea markets or at retail outlets.

One analysis by the Institute for Policy Innovation concludes that global music piracy causes $12,5 billion (R96,7 billion) in loss every year. Russell Crawford, the chairman of the anti-piracy sub-committee of the Recording Industry of South Africa (Risa), says it is estimated that the industry loses up to R350 million annually due to piracy. Risa launched the Anti-Piracy Enforcement Unit in 2004, which has been working with organisations that include the Association of Independent Record Companies South Africa to battle the problem.

Various sources show that piracy in the last five years has decreased significantly, but this is not the main concern for those in the music industry.

“Digital piracy or the unlawful downloading and sharing of copyrighted music over the Internet or via cellphones continues to grow as the way people consume music changes,” says Crawford. “There is no short-term fix.”

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